Changing the World One College Campus at a Time:
Urban Agriculture at NYU and Beyond
By Tayler Jenkins
With their abundance of dedicated knowledge seekers and bright-eyed young activists, college campuses are known to be hubs of innovation and idea generation—a recipe for changing the world. Many would consider the purpose of a college education to be finding a nicely-paying and hopefully fulfilling career. Yet, often, colleges benefit students and their surrounding communities far beyond academics. For instance, many students are finding that, in addition to their formal education, campuses are stressing the importance of creating sustainable communities, growing food and connecting with the land.
Colleges can become leaders in this arena when their ideologies and operations are forward-thinking and integrated into academics and the community. New York University has the right idea—George Reis, supervisor of sustainable landscaping at the university, has incorporated sustainable designs and principles in all aspects of urban landscaping on campus. Reis is passionate about supporting pollinators and native plants, incorporating organic practices, and composting—all essential components of landscaping practices at the university.
“I think we’re getting ahead of the curve… especially when it comes to integrating our grounds into the academic mission,” Reis says about urban landscaping at NYU, “we’ve been asked to come up with new solutions for the way we work and to really reach out to people in the community, and so that’s been, I think, a great strategy for us.”
Urban agriculture on college campuses are inspiring and educational for students with an interest in sustainability, health, or growing their own food. At NYU, students in environmental studies and food systems programs further benefit from the sustainable landscaping program because it provides research opportunities.
The best part about all this is that you don’t have to be in college to change the world—urban agriculture is springing up all over the US, not only on campuses but in homes and communities. Soil, seeds, and a little inspiration are all you really need to join the movement.
Is your university also ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability and urban agriculture? Let us know in the comments below!